‘A Last Supper’ (2015)
The first subject studied for my Leeds Urban Project was the Ideal Standard Factory in Otley (LS21). Two paintings were done including this ‘A Last Supper’ and ‘The Boiler Man.’ You can find out more about the factory, and my study visits, here.
The Ideal Standard factory is closing with the loss of 74 jobs. I undertook to find out more about it before it is gone. On one of my many study visits I was invited to an Asian banquette that took place right in the middle of the factory floor. Who would have believed it?
On a fairly regular basis a substantial table comprising blue plastic stacking boxes, palettes and a table cloth of cardboard would be speedily assembled on the factory floor. Right where the men worked.
With only a 30 minute break time was of the essence. There was very little room between the stacks of cardboard boxes, plastic parts, and assembling machines. However, the table was erected in under two minutes. No sooner had that been done than a feast of precooked Pakistani food was brought out of nowhere including; piping hot halal lamb and vegetable curry, bhajees, naan breads and salads. It was strange to eat a main meal at 10am but this was quite late in the day for these early shift workers.
On this particular occasion a member of management was also invited and, while eating, discussions took place regarding all of their redundancies. They told me that they expected their finishing dates imminently. Management is represented by the many employer P45’s on the table. There was such camaraderie, and kindness, but it was also a very subdued occasion.
After 20 minutes the table was disassembled, with equal proficiency, and all the men were back at their stations before the claxon sounded. It was as though it had never happened. It was extraordinary and I felt honoured not least because I was sent home with two full carrier bags of home made bhajees!
The factory is heated by an old coal boiler that sends hot water around the various rooms in red pipes. Please note the red pipe at the top here and its relationship to my painting ‘The Boiler Man.’
Available as an 18, 24 & 30″ limited edition print (Print ref: Last Supper).